Where does it come from?
Chaga is a mushroom that mostly grows with the Birch tree, all through the boreal regions of our planet. It has a symbiotic relationship with Birch, exchanging with living trees in a way that benefits both organisms, rather than a recycler/parasitic relationship, eating a dying or dead trees. The health of the tree is preserved by the chagas protective attributes and its ability to pull nutrients our of the soil that roots are unable to get at. This all in exchange for a steady stream of sugars to grow itself on. Chaga does not make a fruiting body like other mushrooms, rather it forms a sclerotia, which is a large growth with an outer black skin that protrudes from the tree. These sclerotias are slow growing, taking many years to form. They are typically found where the bark has been compromised or the tree has been wounded. It is in these growths that we find the medicine this wonderful mushroom has to offer.
Like other medicinal mushrooms, Chaga is a rich source of Beta-Glucans. Beta-Glucans have a modulating effect on the immune system, helping in both under active and over active systems. This gives the body a huge advantage when dealing with pathogens and pollutants, as it becomes more adaptable to its environment. Chaga also has a number of other gifts that can assist us in healing. It concentrates betulinic acid from the birch trees. Betulinic acid is a triterpene that has strong anti-oxidant and anti-tumor effects in the body. Chaga generates Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) a potent free-radical scavenger that concentrates in major organs and cells to prevent oxidative damage. In fact, according to the ORAC scale, Chaga may be the most potent anti-oxidant we have ever found, higher than green tea, chocolate, or any of the berries. The outer black surface of Chaga also has been shown to have potent anti-viral properties, and is currently being used with some success for HIV patients. It is also helpful in soothing inflamed mucous membranes, particularly those of the throat and intestinal tract when drank as a tea. All in all, Chaga ranks up there with the top medicinal substances on the planet, and yet it is one of the safest. Acting as a tonic on the body, Chaga can be taken daily with benefits that increase the longer it is used. Making Chaga a regular part of your lifestyle can help increase the ability to adapt to that which life throws at you.
Brewing Chaga Tea:
Bring water to a boil, turn heat down and add chaga.
Lightly simmer for 20 minutes to 5 hours, stirring occasionally.
Strain off liquid and serve.
The grounds can be re-brewed or stored in the fridge to brew again later. Up to 20% of its bio-active compounds are released with each brew, so it is a good idea to brew it at east 3-4 times. As there are anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties to it, often it will keep in a pot on the stove for a good week or more with out going bad. During the winter months, our family just has a pot going most of the time, adding water as needed.
Taste of the tea
The flavour has been compared to that of a sweet mild coffee with hints of vanilla. It is very tasty and many start to crave the taste after awhile. There can be a small amount of bitter to the tea, coming from the anti-viral compounds in the outer black skin, which usually dissipates after the first brew.
Prepared in a way that makes the Chaga more bio-available. It can be added to food such as oatmeal, hot tea, elixirs, smoothies or soups. The powdered extract also makes an instant tea when added to hot water. It does form some sediment however, which can be filtered out, consumed or re-brewed for a second batch of tea. Any of the Harmonic Arts Mushroom powders can be used in tthese ways.